Hereditary Physicians of Kerala: Traditional Medicine and Ayurveda in Modern India, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Hereditary Physicians of Kerala

Traditional Medicine and Ayurveda in Modern India, 1st Edition

By Indudharan Menon

Routledge India

238 pages

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Hardback: 9781138617308
pub: 2018-12-20
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This book examines the history and evolution of Ayurveda and other indigenous medical traditions in juxtaposition with their encounter with colonial modernity. Through the lens of hereditary folk and Ayurvedic practitioners, it focuses on Kerala’s heterogeneous medical traditions and presents them against the backdrop of the geographical, historical, sociocultural, ethnographic and regional contexts in which they developed and transformed.

The author explores the world of Kerala’s last traditionally trained hereditary practitioners (folk healers, poison therapists, Sanskrit-speaking Muslim Ayurvedic practitioners and the legendary Brahman Ashtavaidyan physicians). He discusses the views of these physicians regarding the marked difference between their personalised ancestral methods of treatment and the standardised version of Ayurveda compliant with biomedicine that is practised by doctors today.

Drawing on extensive fieldwork, this book will be useful to researchers and scholars of medical anthropology, health and social medicine, sociology and social anthropology, the history of science and modern Indian history, as well as to medical practitioners interested in alternative and traditional medicine.

Table of Contents



Introduction: A Brief History of Indigenous Medicine in India

1. The Backdrop

2. Contexts

3. Folk Healing, Poison Therapy and Muslim Ayurvedic Lineages

4. The Ashtavaidyans of Malabar


Select Bibliography


About the Author

Indudharan Menon is Visiting Scholar at the Science and Society Programme, National Centre for Biological Sciences (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research), Bengaluru, India. As an Indologist who has studied and extensively researched traditional Indian medicine, sciences and philosophy, he has also coordinated research projects involving traditional Indian vaidyas, biomedical doctors and ethnobotanists. His publications include the book The Concealed Essence of the Hevajra Tantra (1992) and papers in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine (2010) and Current Science (2014).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Asia / India & South Asia
HISTORY / Social History
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Customs & Traditions
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / Asian American Studies